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Learn more about East London’s infamous and famous people. From Jack The Ripper to Alf Garnett.

History of The Stratford Martyrs

If you visit the churchyard of the Church of St John the Evangelist in Stratford, you can see a memorial to the Stratford Martyrs. According to some, this marks the approximate location where 13 people were burned at the stake by Queen Mary I because of their religious beliefs.

The Stratford Martyrs – The Marian Persecutions

By the time Mary inherited the throne from her brother, Edward VI, England was long used to religious turmoil and conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

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Posted in East End People


Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Although not born in the East End, Joseph Merrick spent much of his life in the area and died in the Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road. Known for much of his life, and in popular culture ever since, as the “Elephant Man”, Merrick suffered from an unknown condition that left him severely deformed.

Famous East End Characters the “Elephant Man”

Exhibited as a freak for much of his adult life, his time in the East End may well have been the happiest and safest of his adult life.

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Posted in East End People


Ikey Solomon, Famous East London Characters

The East End of London has had its fair share of characters over the years. Some are famous in good ways; others are more infamous. Ikey Solomon, a well-known figure in the Houndsditch area in Victorian times, certainly qualifies on the infamous scale.

Infamous Ikey Solomon

Some people even think that Dickens modelled the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist on this well-known criminal. This may or may not be true, but he was also part of an unlikely love story.

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Posted in East End People


Clement Attlee Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951

Clement Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1945 to 1951. Although born in Putney, Attlee had a lot of connections with the East End, particularly in Limehouse and Stepney. He lived in the area from the early part of the century until 1922.

Clement Attlee’s Life in the East End of London

He began his political career in these areas, and the time he spent amongst Eastenders helped shaped his political beliefs and convictions,

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Posted in East End People


Isambard Kingdom Brunel and East London

The famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has a couple of close connections with the East End of London. He worked on the world’s first underwater tunnel, the Thames Tunnel, with his father Marc Isambard Brunel. This tunnel crossed under the Thames from Wapping to Rotherhithe. In his later career, he also built and launched one of the world’s greatest ships, the SS Great Eastern, from Millwall’s docks. To Brunel, the SS Great Eastern was simply known as the “Great Babe”.

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Posted in East End People


Bryant and May Strike Bow East London

During the 19th century the match manufacturer, Bryant and May, was one of the main employers in Bow in the East End of London. Although playing with matches is, as we all know, dangerous; at that time just making matches could be deadly. Most of the people working in the factory were women, known as match girls.

The Bryant and May Match Girls Strike

During its most busy period, the Bryant and May factory employed more than 2,000 girls and women.

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Posted in East End People


The London Burkers, Bodysnatching

Shoreditch may be most well known for its mention in the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme, but the area has also had some grisly moments over the years, like most of the East End of London. In the 1830s, it gained some infamy as the home of the London Burkers, a group of body snatchers who tried to make a less than honest living by creating corpses to sell.

Body Snatching in Shoreditch – The London Burkers

The London Burkers may not be as famous as Whitechapel’s Jack the Ripper,

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Posted in East End People


Daniel Mendoza and Bethnal Green

One of the most famous residents of Bethnal Green was the boxer, Daniel Mendoza, who was also known as “Mendoza the Jew”. Mendoza was born in Aldgate but settled in Bethnal Green, where he lived for over thirty years, boxed at the height of his fame and where he raised his family. He also helped put the area on the map as a centre of boxing excellence. Bethnal Green today is still a well known location for boxing bouts,

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Posted in East End People


William Booth Founder of The Salvation Army

William Booth is best known as the founder of the Salvation Army. Although he wasn’t born in London, he did many good works in the East End, helping improve the living conditions of many people living in Whitechapel

William Booth, the Salvation Army and Whitechapel

He also founded the Salvation Army on Whitechapel Road.

Booth was born in Nottingham in 1829. He had a relatively easy start to life, as his father was wealthy,

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Posted in East End People


Sylvia Pankhurst and The Suffragette Movement

Although she was born in Manchester, Sylvia Pankhurst had strong connections to the East End of London, particularly in Bow. A leading member of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, she, her mother Emmeline and her sister Christabel, fought tirelessly for women’s rights and equality. Sylvia’s work in Bow and the East End in general, however, did more than simply help women; she wanted to help all of the local population.

Sylvia Pankhurst Brings the Suffragette Movement to Bow

Sylvia’s early life was influenced by her mother’s suffrage activities,

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Posted in East End People


Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.

If you were watching TV in the 1960s and 1970s, the chances are you can remember Alf Garnett and the comedy series “Till Death Us Do Part” and the 1980s follow-up, “In Sickness and in Health.” This Wapping boy may not seem to show the best of the East End at times, but he was an introduction to the area for many people living outside of London who had no real idea where Wapping was.

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Posted in East End People


Who Was Jack The Ripper of Whitechapel?

Without a doubt, Jack the Ripper is the UK’s most infamous serial killer. If you can describe this kind of individual as being popular, then Jack is the main man who tops all popularity polls. Our fascination with him is partly down to the fact that his crimes were so horrific and partly because we have no idea who he really was. Countless newspaper reports, police investigations and speculation surround his identity and motive.

An Introduction to Jack the Ripper.

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Posted in East End People


Ripper Walks in the East End

London’s East End was the home turf of the UK’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper. If you want to re-trace his steps and learn more about his crimes, then you might enjoy taking a Ripper walk through the area. It’s actually fairly easy to find these crime scenes as he murdered most of his victims in public places.

Walk in the Footsteps of Jack; Ripper Walks in the East End.

You can take a guided tour or simply walk around the locations yourself – don’t forget to stop off in the infamous Ten Bells pub!

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Posted in East End People


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